Laura Lexx was a firm supporter of the No More Page 3 campaign until the day it seemed it had won. That got her thinking…
The day the tits were removed and it seemed we’d won, my blood ran a little cold. We had done it. We were victorious; we had changed the contents of the publication.
Suddenly I panicked. In the wake of the attack on the Charlie Hebdo magazine I have thought frequently about the importance of free speech and here I was celebrating the stifling of someone else’s desire to print something.
How can you say the artists of Charlie Hebdo had every right to print controversial images, when you are simultaneously pushing to remove different images?
I worried I was being hypocritical; I was passionately arguing why pictures could do social damage, but feeling strongly that other people should have the right to print what they like. If I don’t want my daughter to walk into a cafe and see someone looking at images I believe to be harmful to women, why should a Muslim have to subject their child to an image that they believe could harm their religion?
I don’t buy The Sun because I don’t want to support that paper and I don’t want to see Page 3. If I don’t think this is action enough against images I don’t like, then how can I claim to be pro free speech? Can I believe that people have every right to print anything, but still be asking someone not to do so?
Yes, I believe I can. Because these two issues’ only similarity is their basis in pictures; beyond that they become utterly incomparable.
In my opinion, people (Muslim or otherwise) can protest Charlie Hebdo‘s cartoons as much as I protest Murdoch’s photos. Those cartoons can be slammed left, right and centre, and pulled from circulation for being offensive without disrupting anyone’s freedom of speech. My peace of mind rested on understanding the concept of mode of protest.
The No More Page 3 Campaign is a peaceful protest based on asking the maker of the product to cease. It is not about Government policy change or physical force; it’s a continued request that involves persuading more people to agree using passionate argument. If a change in the contents of Page 3 comes about it will be because it’s makers authorised it, of their own free will. In truth, it will likely be a commercial decision; the pictures will go when the paper stops making money from them. So a successful campaign will involve convincing a majority of the public to disdain the product and devalue its worth. If that were to be the case then the paper reflects the way the public has spoken; free speech is alive and well.
Charlie Hebdo‘s cartoons were not attacked; its people were. If it was a protest against the images, then they aimed for the wrong target. That “protest” gave no option, no persuasion, no argument; it was not a request. It didn’t ask the populace if it also wanted change, and it didn’t show them why they might. It was not about asking for the removal of the product. Condemnation of the attack did not and does not automatically translate to support of the cartoons; it condemns the method of protest.
This is how you can “Je Suis Charlie” and also be “No More Page 3″… because one is an exercise in really using free speech and one was categorically not.
I am a comedian, writer, baker and glorious feminist. I am nothing if not enthusiastic about everything. @lauralexx